1 December 2023

Ramacereal's semi-industrial unit in Abobo Baoulé, in the northern suburbs of Abidjan, transforms cereals into fine powder or granules.

If there is one thing that Ivorians value, it is their baguette of white bread. Early in the morning in Abidjan, the day begins with a “pain-condiment”, a sandwich filled with omelette, minced meat or fish, with sauces and small vegetables. For a quick lunch, those in a hurry will opt for “pain-chien”, the West African equivalent of the hot dog where the sausage is replaced by a beef skewer with ketchup or mayonnaise. The baguette can also accompany or sauce a dish and is even available as a snack in sweet rolls…

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The romance between Côte d’Ivoire and its baguettes is so strong that in nouchi, Franco-Ivorian slang, the loved one is called “my bread”. In 2018, there were more than 2,000 bakeries in the territory, more than half of them in Abidjan. This market, which represented more than 100 billion CFA francs (more than 150 million euros) each year, seemed unshakeable.

Then war broke out in Ukraine and cereal prices soared, forcing the Ivorian government to react in the summer of 2022 by granting a subsidy of 6.4 billion CFA francs to millers for the import of wheat flour. But the measure did not hold: at the beginning of 2023, the State cut the subsidy and the price of a bag of flour rose by 17%, from 21,750 to 25,500 CFA francs (from 33 to 39 euros) at the start of February. .

Should the regulatory weight of the stick be reduced? Exempt millers from customs duties?

In response, the Bakery and Pastry High Patronage launched a strike on February 6, which it finally lifted the same day after being received by the government. Faced with the crisis in the sector, several solutions have been considered. Should the regulatory weight of the baguette be reduced, as requested by the two other baker’s federations? Exempt millers from customs duties, as proposed by the Ministry of Commerce? Or see in the longer term and explore a still embryonic sector, that of local flours?

“We have everything we need to change the game”

It is this last option that defends the pioneer of the sector, Ramacereal, which embarked on the production of local flours in 2005. Its general manager, Aramatou Coulibaly, chose to establish its small semi-industrial unit in Abobo Baoulé , in the northern suburbs of Abidjan. In the heat and din of the machines, about thirty permanent employees – mostly women – transform cereals into fine powder or granules, and cassava tubers into dehydrated semolina, attiéké.

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